May 18, 1980

May 18, 1980

May 18, 1980 150 150 Daniel Baker

Spring sun:​
races across the plowed fields​
flows over the tall grasses​
pushes past a stand of oaks​
spills over the gully’s edge​
breaks the broad basement windows​
animates a dozen expectant faces​
and lands​
on a cloth-covered board,​
a paper Jesus and Peter,​
and her illuminated hands.​

She navigates the room​
to a shelf​
where the flash of cheap metal​
and rattle of tambourines​
starts voices whispering.​
Little chairs skip over the carpet​
making space for a weathered soda crate​
filled with shakers and scrapers,​
sticks, triangles and bells.​
An orchestra passes into eager hands.​

We delight in each wooden ‘tock’ and​
each tinny ring. We laugh, clap, shout and sing.​
Her grey hair shakes and bobs​
and her smile​
at every “Yes, Jesus loves me”​
paints the cinder block walls with joy.


Daniel Baker

Dan Baker was born in the 70s in rural Wisconsin but now he writes, does digital marketing and lives with his family in Milwaukee.

All posts by Daniel Baker
  • Oh, this is such a beautiful picture, Daniel. Lovely.

  • Ah, the nostalgia! This one is so incredibly rich, and without feeling forced or inauthentic. The imagery and sentiments are immediately familiar and real to anyone who grew up with them. Great work.

    • Thank you Rodney. It took a lot of refinement and rewrites to communicate this memory. I’m glad it resonated with you.

  • Jeannie Prinsen May 22, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I love this poem. The reference to the flannelgraph board in particular immediately made me think of an older woman in my church, Phyllis. She and her late husband had no children, but she has taught children at our church for over 50 years. She has no fancy props, no modern technology,; she probably uses the same cutouts she did 50 years ago. But the kids flock to her, maybe because she has the secret weapons: love for children and and complete joy and peace in the Lord. Your beautiful poem seems like a tribute to her and all the otherwise unsung people who are serving God by loving the little ones.

    • Thanks Jeannie. It is most definitely a “tribute” to Phyllises everywhere who spent time discipling young kids in those days of minimal props and resources.